virtually one, actually the other

Art Online: The cultural marketplace
Increasing Internet availability renders it a suitable site for artworks, but commercial interests still dominate main stage, making specific demands on the trajectories of the medium. So exhibitions of technological fluency has become the hallmarks of most artworks online. Otherwise the Internet performs as standing galleries or catalogues to showcase work existent elsewhere, with artistry seen as an 'external' experience. It is also difficult to commodify work produced with the inbuilt flaw of allowing free and perfect duplications. Even with the advent of watermarks and download numbering, there is understandable resistance to online artworks having the same gravitas of works made for the real world.

On the distribution of an e-mail press release for an exhibition that was blocked by a corporate server, queries arose. It was intimated that the server had a list of hazardous words which rendered scanned e-mail subject to close scrutiny and rejection. In this case the trigger word was 'Nigeria'. That a country's name is 'dangerous' points to those who see the internet as a belonging, possessively determining insiders and outsiders. These 'outsiders' are intruders into a hallowed sanctum. It is this claim of ownership/responsibility which re-creates the 'other' as anathema.

Back to the market
Artwork made for the Internet by a black person, will be unable to stand outside its expected readership and racial/cultural hegemony. Work cannot proceed simply as an exploration of ideas, it will have to purposefully address a 'hostile' audience, which will undoubtedly influence content and presentation. Audience cognisance will demarcate the inevitable dividing line between artistic innovation and reiteration of lived experience.

Accordingly, the links between race and representation - or at least the penchant to link one to the other - is one that increased visuality on the Internet will have to address. (13) Third generation mobile phones, digital television, and broadband phone lines will affect the use of the Internet to the point where live visual media will become synonymous with the internet. Webcams are here to stay, and with them the user's face and evident realities of race.

Black artists are theoretically able to participate equally online with their white counterparts. Cultural dominance is challengeable online; with advertising on a search engine, e-mail shots (even with biased filters), and aggressive publicity, anyone can achieve a voice. Those with cultural and financial clout in the real world will still ensure their online adventures receive superior notice, but there is the possibility of equality. Once a guest visits a particular site, the host has their undivided attention. However being number 305,256 on a search engine's list, means you'll probably never be seen by chance. and chance plays a huge part in being seen online without prior determination.

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